ABC provided more evidence Thursday that daytime serials are an endangered species on broadcast TV: The Alphabet formally announced its long-expected plan to ax two long-running sudsers, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” over the next nine months.
Both series will be replaced by chatshows, one a food-themed series from Gordon Elliot, exec producer of “Paula Deen’s Home Cooking,” and another a health/lifestyle show from 3 Ball Prods., producer of “The Biggest Loser.”
“AMC” will end in September, while “Live” will sign off next January.
“Children” will be replaced by “The Chew,” a daily discussion of everything food featuring chefs Mario Batali and Michael Symon, both of Food Network’s “Iron Chef America”; Clinton Kelly of TLC’s “What Not to Wear”; Carla Hall of Bravo’s “Top Chef”; and nutrition expert Daphne Oz.
“Live” will be replaced by “The Revolution,” which is billed as a “one-stop shop for better living” and will feature Tim Gunn of Bravo’s “Project Runway,” Kimberley Locke of Fox’s “American Idol” and celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak.
Each weekday, the show will focus on one woman’s weight-loss efforts over the span of five months.
“While we are excited about our new shows and the shift in our business, I can’t help but recognize how bittersweet the change is,” said Brian Frons, president of daytime at Disney ABC/Television Group.
The cancellation was rumored to be in the offing given the ratings struggles of both programs in recent years, a problem exacerbated by the expense of scripted production.
ABC has found an easier road to profitability in daytime with chatshow “The View,” which Frons cited as an inspiration for the new programs.
Another long-running ABC soap, “General Hospital,” will continue. “Hospital” may have escaped the chopping block because it has held up better in the ratings than the other two, and Disney still reaps revenues from the series overseas.
Among the six daytime soaps airing on the Big Three this season, “AMC” and “Live” are the two lowest-rated in the key women 18-49 demo.
“Live” began in 1968 and “AMC” followed two years later. Both canceled soaps, created by Agnes Nixon, were a breeding ground for Hollywood talent including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Josh Duhamel and Melissa Leo.
CBS and NBC already started doing away with soaps a few years ago, including “Guiding Light,” “As the World Turns” and “Passions.”
ABC had reportedly been developing alternatives to its soap programming, including a male-skewing “View” featuring Bryant Gumbel. But the projects announced Thursday managed to float below the radar entirely.
The infusion of new daytime programming comes as Disney is said to be one of the congloms angling for the services of Katie Couric, who is weighing options that could see her exit CBS News. ABC’s daytime block may be a potential home for Couric, though “Chew” and “Revolution” would cut into the available timeslots.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists issued a statement describing the cancellation as a “devastating loss” for the thousands of workers affected in productions on both coasts. The WGA East also issued a statement noting the impact of the loss on the Gotham TV production community.
ABC attempted to cut costs on “AMC” by moving its production from New York to Los Angeles in 2009, but the show reportedly still racked up budget overruns.